Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Podolski gets Arsenal -Diaby's still not there yet -Wilshere's return -Cabaye bids?

Morning Gooners.

The dust is starting to settle on our victory at Anfield. One thing which really has impressed me so far this season - and was evident at the final whistle on Sunday - is how together this team it.

The actions of Per Mertesacker in front of the away fans in the Anfield Road End - bear hugging and lifting up both Lukas Podolski and Thomas Vermaelen - shows the team spirit is still there despite the departure of the greedy badger, who worked very hard on it last season when he was captain.

The big German had a fantastic game in the heart of our defence. He was walking a tightrope after his early booking for bringing down Luis Suarez. I think he is underrated by a lot of Gooners. He brings calmness to the defence, reads the game so well and makes important challenges. The other thing I've particularly enjoyed seeing him bring to his game is the near post Steve Bould flick ons this season.

He may not be the quickest over the first ten yards, but when he's got quick players around him I don't believe that is too much of an issue. And a player who has been part of a defence who has kept three clean sheets can't be that bad.

His compatriot Podolski isn't doing to badly for himself either. Showing the work rate we want to see from our players. All to often in the past our pressing game has been let down by individuals who have given up on playing for the team. It's clear that recent signings have brought into the manager's game plan - the work defensively of Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud is evidence of this.

I was impressed with Podolski's work not just in front of goal, but on the wing in front of Kieran Gibbs. You could see at the final whistle when the players were celebrating that Podolski gets Arsenal and us Gooners. I think he likes being part of a team which has a set of fans with a collective spirit that we're all in this together.

He said:

"I'm very happy to score my first goal here [Anfield] at Liverpool with their amazing fans and stadium. I'm also very happy that we won and got the three points. 
"You must always work hard in matches. You must fight, you must run and you must score goals. When I'm on the pitch I can win matches. Today was good, we won and got three points."

I think that it is no surprise the manager has chosen to start with Podolski wide in our two away games this season. He's far more defensively minded than Theo Walcott and Gervinho. But he'll work hard for the team as well. For his goal he ran the length of the pitch to get in a position where Cazorla could give him the ball back in a shooting position.

I'm hugely excited by what is to come from Podolski this season.

Another player who I'm hoping to see more of is Abou Diaby. I don't want to go overboard after just one performance but the signs are positive. He had a fantastic game at Anfield but I want to see him do this consistently for several games.

It's true that he had a tough season last time round. He played just 98 minutes of first team football last season. So far this term he's managed more than double that this term after a solid pre-season. The manager has always kept faith in him, despite his injury troubles and I hope that Abou is able to repay him by going through this season with less time in the treatment room and more time on the pitch.

Diaby has revealed it was his love of the game which saw him get through the dark moments sat on the sidelines. He said:

"Mentally it was a hard time but I love football. Football is my passion so it doesn’t matter what happened, I need to look forward and that is what I have done in this situation. 
"I am really happy to play again. When you play in these type of games [against Liverpool], it is really exciting and you need to be ready. I am really happy and I hope I can keep going in that way. 
"The main thing is that I need to get my confidence back so I need to go in for challenges. We did that really well on Sunday."

With Jack Wilshere making good progress in his comeback from injury - the manager revealing he could be back on duty for the first team in a month's time - Diaby will need to stay at his best to retain his position in the team.

The manager believes we have an abundance of riches in the midfield and he's true. And because we'll have a lot of games this season there will be time for them all to have an important impact on the team.

It was interesting to read that the manager made two bids for Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye. Perhaps he still feels there is room in the midfield for one more player.

One place there is certainly room for more players is at London Colney where Mikael Silvestre is training according to the Daily Mail.

That's it for today. Back with more tomorrow.

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